Controversy over Powerstage trickeries in the WRC intensifies
The Powerstage concept of the World Rally Championship threatens to become a farce, as two drivers deliberately started too late in the Mexico Rally too
Sebastien Ogier and M-Sport have opened the Pandora’s box in the World Rally Championship (WRC), because the decision of the Frenchman and his team to deliberately start into the Powerstage too late and gain an advantage in the fight for the additional points was imitated in Mexico. And so far, the World Automobile Association FIA has no more than a helpless appeal to the teams.
Both drivers were able to accept the time penalty for the late start because of their position in the overall classification like Ogier in Sweden, and as in the case of Ogier, who finished second in Sweden, the calculation of Tänak and Neuville in Mexico also came up. The Estonian won the Powerstage and thus secured five additional points. Neuville finished fourth, then moved up to third place after a penalty against Ogier.
Appeal of the FIA blows the teams off
However, this trickery is a thorn in the side of many people involved. Drivers who, like Tänak, park just a few metres from the starting line and, due to their late start, confuse the course of the final spectacle of a World Championship rally, do not cast a good light on the WRC. But the FIA seems to have their hands tied.
A late start is not forbidden, the drivers only receive a time penalty depending on the amount of the delay. But that was no real penalty for Neuville, who had a sufficient advantage to the back or Tänak, who was out of the points after his retirement on Saturday anyway.
The FIA therefore turned to the teams during the Mexico Rally, appealed to them to refrain from tactical gimmicks of this kind and asked them to come up with solutions. But the guardians of the rules scampered as expected:”Why should this be our job? Every team does what it thinks is best for itself,”says a high-ranking team representative to’ Motorsport-Total. com’.”That’s the job of the FIA.”
Kris Meekes suggestion: No points in case of delay
In an interview with’ Motorsport-Total. com’, Hyundai team manager Alain Penasse says:”Ogier created a precedent. We had in Portugal (2017; Note d. Red.) with Paddon also thought about it, but they didn’t do it for ethical reasons and because of the live broadcast. But if one of us starts, we’ll follow suit. There’s nothing else left to do.”
Which was the case at the Mexico Rally in the case of Hyundai near Neuville. Penasse does not want Ogier and M-Sport because of the creation of this precedent “I do not say that it was wrong of Ogier. The rules are like this. On the contrary, they need to be respected. You need eggs to make a decision like that.”
Citroen pilot Kris Meeke also plays the same horn:”You can’t blame Seb for what he did in Sweden. But then only a small rule change would have been necessary:”If you start into the Powerstage too late, you don’t get any points if you end up among the top 5″, the Nordire suggests,”This would have done it once and for all. So we risk that the Powerstage doesn’t happen for 20 minutes. That’s bound to be great on live TV,”says Meeke with a sarcastic undertone.
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